Web Accessibility Laws in Canada
The Canadian Human Rights Act of 1977, a federal law, was enacted to prohibit discrimination on several grounds, including disability. While it does not mention web accessibility explicitly, the law’s current interpretation requires federal and First Nations governments and federally regulated private sectors such as banking, telecommunications, and transportation to ensure that web-based and mobile apps and content be accessible to all users.
The Accessible Canada Act (also known as the Act to Ensure a Barrier-Free Canada) and the Employment Equity Act require Parliament, the federal government, and federally regulated employers to eliminate barriers to employment for people from protected groups, including those with disabilities. It requires employers to provide accommodations for employees, including accessibly providing employment opportunities and ensuring technologies necessary for work are accessible.
The 2011 Standard on Web Accessibility requires Government of Canada web content to conform to WCAG 2.0 Level AA.
Provinces and Territories
No province-level laws.
The AccessibleBC plan, an outcome of the wide-ranging Accessible British Columbia Act, enacted June 2021, refers to improving web accessibility for provincial government web content between 2022 and 2025.
British Columbia's Web Policy and Content Standards for provincial government web content require WCAG Level AA conformance (at the current WCAG version), except that reading level must additionally conform to Success Criterion 3.1.5: Reading Level, which is Level AAA.
The Accessibility for Manitobans Act includes the Accessibility Standard for Information and Communication. This standard is expected to be met within three different timeframes for different groups:
- The Manitoba Government – May 1, 2023
- Public sector organizations, libraries, and educational institutions – May 1, 2024
- Private sector, non-profit organizations and small municipalities – May 1, 2025
The Accessible Information and Communication Standard frequently references WCAG 2.1 Level AA as a benchmark for both websites and documents.
No province-level laws, but a Select Committee on Accessibility is in place.
Newfoundland & Labrador
Newfoundland & Labrador’s Act Respecting Accessibility in the Province became law in December of 2021. It established a process for “identifying, preventing and removing barriers that prevent persons with disabilities from full participation in society.” The area of information and communication is included in the law, making documents or information posted on a website subject to accessibility standards.
The Government of Northwest Territories Consistent User Experience policy requires its own web content to conform to WCAG (without specifying a version or level).
The 2017 Nova Scotia Accessibility Act applies to public sector bodies and aims to develop accessibility standards in six areas, including information and communication, where web accessibly falls.
No territory-level laws.
The Ontario Human Rights Code of 1962 established the prohibition actions that discriminate against people based on a protected “ground” in a protected “social area,” including disability as a protected ground. The social areas include housing, employment, contracts, goods, services, and facilities, and membership in unions, trade or professional associations.
Enacted in 2005, the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (AODA) is the oldest law of its kind among the provinces. Notably, it requires WCAG 2.0 Level AA conformance of both public- and private-sector web content, except that WCAG Success Criteria 1.2.4 - Captions (Live) and 1.2.5 - Audio Descriptions (Pre-recorded) are not required.
Prince Edward Island
No province-level laws.
Respecting Equal Access to Employment in Public Bodies provides a framework to provide equal access to employment in public-sector employers like school boards, local government, and public transit authorities by marginalized groups, including those with disabilities. Includes benchmarks and goals for equal access employment programs.
The Government of Saskatchewan's Web Accessibility policy requires provincial government web content to conform to WCAG Level AA. (No version is specified.)
The Government of Yukon Digital Service Standards require its own web content to conform to WCAG 2.0 Level AA.
The information provided here should not be inferred to be legal advice. Anyone questioning legal obligations for their web site should consult with an attorney.